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Tony Smith

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

"Be all you can be" was one of the U.S. Army's most successful recruiting slogans. It resonated with the public and youth. It's the kind of affirmation that resonates. Why shouldn't that be all American's goal?

Measuring progress must be important. The American social safety net does not measure up. There are 30 advanced industrial countries in the world. We are measured against them. In data on providing food, housing, and transportation to citizens America spends about 4 percent of its Gross Domestic Product. GDP is a dollar amount of all goods produced in a year. The other 29 countries spend an average of 10 percent on social services.

Not only do we not spend money on the health of our society, under Republican leadership the situation is getting worse. In Missouri and much of the nation, the social safety net is being shredded. Franklin Roosevelt called this "Giving a hand up." More citizens today are getting their hands slapped away.

Contrary to what politicians tell you, the cost to you for this is large. America spends 18 percent of its GDP on health care. That's twice as much as other nations. The average American pays $10,000 annually per person for health insurance. How is this possible?

Studies show that wellness and longevity are directly related to a person's income, education and social status. The Boonville Daily News reported last year that the eight counties in central Missouri have 51,000 citizens living below the poverty level. Half of all Medicare recipients live totally on Social Security. People living in poverty generally end up getting the most expensive medical care possible in Emergency Rooms. They cannot pay the outrageous bills. Hospitals mark that off as uncompensated care.

Everyone with a health insurance policy pays for uncompensated care. Hospitals cover unpaid bills by charging insurance companies more. That is passed on to you.

One way to help do it right is for Missouri to expand Medicaid and not restrict it. A Washington University study states an additional 200,000 Missourians would get ongoing treatment under expansion. There is a current Medicaid expansion petition to get this on the ballot so you can vote yes or no.

A forum on Medicaid Expansion will be at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at MRRL. When will Missouri be all it can be?

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